九口走召 9mouthUntitled from Menstrual series (2014)

From one vantage: this image is a little too perfect of an addendum to the previous .gif. From another: I’m not entirely comfortable posting it.

9mouth is an exceedingly problematic image maker. I’ve posted about him before and my argument each time seems to boil down to even misogynist men can sometimes make an objectively good sexy picture.

However, engaging with his work this time around has prompted me to modify my opinion of him and his work.

The first thing that’s worth mentioning is that I’m bringing a better working familiarity with Nobuyoshi Araki and Daidō Moriyama to the table this time around–9mouth’s aesthetic being influenced heavily by them both.

The problem with this is that that the younger photographer cleaves to these sources in a blunt and non-contemplative fashion. To speak in broadest of generalities Araki’s work implicates its own voyeuristic raison d’etre through various conceptual stratagems; Moriyama tends to seek out the foreign in the familiar–in the instances of his more voyeuristic work, there’s a decontextualization of the mundane in an effort to draw attention and focus to how the juxtaposition between the erotic and the mundane infroms our notions of the limits of either category.

It feels like 9mouth looks at Araki and Moriyama as photographers who like make photos of nude women–without understanding that there is a lot more going on in their work than just gratifying a knee-jerk cishet male gaze.

9mouths work hinges not on any conceptual framework–and he very much attempts to lead with that but it’s disingenuous, self-justification at best–instead, his work is fixated on either women’s bodies as the locus of all sexual fetishization and women’s bodies presented to the viewer as if their bodies are sexually available to anyone approaching the work.

I am disappointed in myself for taking so long to see this fact. (Even by my own persnickety quibbling with compositional considerations–it’s taken me a minute to apply my own frequent criticism regarding the frame edge as a amputative tool. (For example: in the image above the woman–who is unnamed and due to the nature of the Menstrual series, inherently carrying an expiration date and therefore also disposable–has her feet amputated meaning that not only is she presented as sexually available to anyone who sees her, she also is rendered immobile through the symbolic amputation of both her feet.

Pavel KiselevKate (2017)

If you’ve spent any time plumbing the depths of :::air quotes::: fine art nude photography/image making on the Interwebz, you’ll be familiar with Kiselev: he made a bunch of images of women lounging around in various stages of undress inside a cabin on a sleeper car aboard a train. He eventually edited these images down and released them as a photo book called Railway novel.

His work has always been interesting in a knee-jerk, voyeuristic fashion–he’s clearly most comfortable when his work pursues a measured but by no means reserved eroticism.

This portrait of Kate (above) is surprising for a number of reasons. The eroticism is understated. Yes: there’s the cherry pinched between her teeth, hair partially obscuring her left nipple and her knickers pulled down and up draw attention to the shadowed cleft between her thighs.

The way she meets the gaze of the camera though suggests–to me at least–that it’s all a carefully constructed ruse to command attention. I mean: leaving the eroticism and voyeuristic impetus for a minute–the use of color is actually effing fantastic; the dark navy of her sailors collar, the matching skirt (darker for less lights reflecting off it) and the darker blue of her denim shoes.

And the blue is perfectly balanced by the green brown to yellow motif of the autumnal leaves. (Hell, the attention to texture is even hitting and sticking: the brushed chrome of the legs on the bistro chair, the vinyl of the white seat cushion–even the texture of her stockings registers.

I am not 100% sure what the haze in the upper left corner is exactly. I’m guessing it’s supposed to look like fog–or, what in painting is termed: sfumato. It’s not evenly applied across the area, however; and my gut says it’s that thing you see often in documenting products for commercial campaigns where you reflected light directly into the lens. (You can do this with a white sheet of paper or the blade of a knife held at an angle just on the periphery of the lens’ angle of view.)

I’m bothering to point this out for a number of reasons but mainly to demonstrate that if you keep making pictures–merely the act of continuously creating will improve your work.

However, those who both consistently create work and consume work will always progress faster and more organically than others. Like I’d put money on the fact that Kiselev knows the work of the Ninja Turtles namesakes. But, looking at this, I suspect he’s also familiar with Otto Dix. (This portrait of Kate reminds me of Dix’s 1926 Portrait of Sylvia von Harden–I suspect that’s not an accident.)

Agnieszka Sosnowska – Nowell, Massachusetts (1991)

If you follow this blog for the artier stuff, then you are probably already familiar with Lens Culture.

They do some rad stuff: serving as the impetus for posts featuring the work of Anna Grzelewska and Kumi Oguro.

Honestly, I was thoroughly underwhelmed by their presentation of Sosnowska. By focusing solely on her work’s ‘coming to terms’ with her families immigration to Iceland, there’s this sort of O Pioneers! vibe to it that registers as coy, sentimental and over-precious.

While I was in Iceland, the boastfully named Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur, or Reykjavík Museum of Photography, had a show up called Traces of Life featuring a smattering of Sosnowska’s work.

I can’t speak to the quality of curation of the show–it seemed to lack an overarching cohesion and although explicitly preoccupied with self-portraiture, a great deal of the work was abstract in a way that beggars the question: how is this self-portraiture? (Not that most of the work on display offered much guidance on how to address such questions.)

Still, I have to qualify it as a success because I walked away with a respect for Sosnowska, I would have otherwise missed. Part of it was realizing that her work is fundamentally rooted in self-portraiture. Second, nothing available online does her images justice. She makes rich, contrasty, 3D baryta prints that are small, make stubborn demands for intimate observation and seethe with the ambiguous intention of a stumbled upon coiled serpent.

Sophie van der PerreSarah (2014)

Overall, I find der Perre’s work perhaps a little too self-consciously editorial/fashion in genre.

I do not mean to suggest it’s bad. It’s just that there’s almost a self-same ubiquity to it and it looks to me like all the rest of effectively executed, even thoughtful but ultimately dull editorial/fashion work I see.

But I do really like this image and a few others in her Flickr photostream. And although I could make easy correlations to Lina Scheynius or Chip Willis, I am more interested in my realization that although I consider Erica Shires to be one of the best photographers working today, der Perre’s work actually suggested the closest thing I have to a criticism of Shires’ work: namely, her didactic use of nudity.

Shires is teaching a workshop in Tuscany this month. And one of the first topics she mentions in her course description is: [s]hooting nudity but being thoughtful about it. Does it make sense? Go beyond the literal.

This sensibility is pervasive in her work. And I feel that now that I know to look for it, a great deal of the nudity in her images comes across as preachy.

It is always a very fine line between leading by example and insisting on leading by example. I feel it’s actually the same margin between showing and telling. But one should never tell where it is possible to show and I think what der Perre does is feature nudity in images that are intrinsic to the images themselves. There’s no question of how it happened or whether it was motivated, it merely is a discrete, moment presented without commentary as-is.

The result is playful without being the least bit coquettish or flirtatious.

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

When an image is founded upon a solid idea, it’ll with stand a great deal in the way of poor execution without losing efficacy.

This is total #skinnyframebullshit and the production design was clearly meant to be Botticelli-esque but ends up looking half-assed. Further, even though equipment limitations probably resulted in both boys being decapitated by the frame and I’m guessing preserving anonymity was important, lopping off their heads is just ugly.

What I like is the intimacy of it even though it is very much in public. But what really flows like an electrical current through this image is the way they are both almost grasping each other. :::shivers:::


Blue over green fields and a distant siren sings muted rendition of fire engine red—the world’s colors are so effusive sight often spills into sound.

Black and white photography distills the manifest to its base visual elements: “light, line and form.”

Whereas color photography displays the world more-or-less as it appears. Among the keepers of culture, this begged questions as to the inherent art value of color in photography. What criterion could separate mundane snapshots from carefully considered works of art?

William Eggleston was one of the first to breakthrough this impasse. His use of color worked as a logical extension of his compositions and was anything but incidental.

Today, color is viewed as having equal viability with black and white as a medium for fine art photography. And while this allows photographers to focus on one or the other without recriminations, questions about the purpose of color in photography still linger.

You Are Cordially Invited to Piss Off posted this photograph by Ahndraya Parlato, who fuses a contemplative spirit with edgy surrealist hallucinations on sheets of large format film. The results are goddamn breathtaking even if the work is in color not about it.

The preceding image is a stunning exception: a young woman—framed from midriff to mid-shin—lays splayed on a green lawn flecked with autumnal leaves in a wet red dress; clear water pooling in the fabric between her thighs—a doubtless intended visual innuendo.

There are themes of sexuality as potential, the elemental (earth, fire and water) and I am of a mind that there is an auto-biographical element (every dead leaf in the frame appears specifically placed to me). However, it is impossible to dodge the insistence of the color in any conceptual consideration; the red and green complement one another perfectly, the skin tone, a touch sickly as a result of the hyper-stylized color. Stylization masked by echoing the pooled water with colors approximating the heightened saturation after rainfall on overcast days.